Today 8th March 2017, we join the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, TGNP-Mtandao explores the relationship between gender based violence in Tanzania and women’s economic empowerment and leadership. Our goal is to stimulate public discussion on this issue and draw attention to what must be done if we are to give women and girls of our country the confidence and the space to thrive.
The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. That is too long. In Tanzania International Women’s Day must be an important catalyst to build momentum for positive change for women. Our goal is no less than gender equality. We call it 50:50.
While Tanzania has made progress towards gender equality over the last decade, key challenges remain such as inequitable access to and ownership of land and resources, the low participation of women at all levels of decision making, gender based violence and the exclusion of women from the paid economy. This is reflected in the 2014 Gender Inequality Index, where Tanzania ranks 125 out of 155 countries with a rating of 0.547.[i]
There is a complex relationship between economic development, economic empowerment and violence against women and girls. Economic empowerment can help women and girls avoid and escape from violence and violent situations.
However, women and girls who face violence may be less likely to continue with education, access economic empowerment or control assets.
Tanzanian women and girls experience violence in the home, in the workplace, in market places and on the way to school and work. This not only prevents women from earning an income and girls from attending school but also restricts business productivity and profitability, and therefore impacts our economic potential.
Women’s poverty and their unpaid reproductive, household and caring responsibilities compound discriminatory social norms that increase their vulnerability to violence. The violence and vulnerability can be carried across generations, repeating cycles of discriminatory practice and abuse
Thus, any efforts targeting economic growth and women’s economic empowerment would be weakened if they do not also address violence against women and girls. Tanzania’s women are powerful contributors to our economic engine. Building a gender balanced economy is crucial for our growth and productivity. It is also critical to protecting women against violence.
Violence against women and girls also limits progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by impacting women’s and girls’ health, education, and participation in work. It violates women’s and girls’ human rights and can have a negative impact on long-term economic prosperity.
By shining light on gender violence, we can begin addressing the social norms and conditions that must be addressed if we are to create the conditions for women to participate fully in our nation’s economy and for our country to grow.
[i] Tz.undp.org While Tanzania has achieved progress towards gender equality over the last decade, key challenges remain such as inequitable access to and ownership of land and resources, the low participation of women at all levels of decision making, gender based violence and women exclusion from the economy. This is reflected in the 2014 Gender Inequality Index, where Tanzania ranks 125 out of 155 countries with a rating of 0.547.